A brand spanking new eight-mile trail traversing scenic wetlands and wildlife refuges now links Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle. Named for the former Delaware governor who spearheaded the path’s creation, the “Jack A. Markell Trail” was officially opened for biking, hiking, birdwatching and even commuting at a ceremony yesterday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center on the Christina River.
The new trail connects to a 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway stretching from Maine to Florida and includes a 300-foot long pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2300-foot boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.
Public officials and Greenway supporters heralded the trail’s dedication during a long-awaited ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, with many touting both the environmental and economic benefits of the new artery.
“I’m thrilled that we’re opening this trail, which establishes a critical new link within our state’s trail network and the East Coast Greenway,” said Markell. “Dozens of miles of new trails and pathways have been constructed to more fully integrate our hundreds of miles of existing routes into a world-class regional trail network. Doing so strengthens the quality of life of people in our state while helping attract more people to live and work here.”
In Wilmington, the trail is accessed through the Christina riverfront, and Riverfront Development Corporation’s Joe Valenti said it would only drive greater vitality to the city.
“The opening of the Jack A. Markell Trail is a wonderful moment for the Riverfront,” said Valenti. “It not only adds another to the long list of exciting and fun activities here but helps to further connect the people of Delaware, as well as provide more access in and out along the river.”
Biking enthusiasts lauded the trails opening “decades after it was first proposed and … stubborn advocacy and hard work.” Discussion of the trail was first raised in the 1990s.
The trail’s opening creates Delaware’s largest cycling network improvement project as well as the state’s longest bicycle bridge: a football-field-long bike bridge spanning the Christina River.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer called the trail, “a new I-95 from New Castle to Wilmington.”
Some photos courtesy of the Riverfront Development Corporation